Health Care Workers’ Reported Discomfort While Wearing Filtering Face-Piece Respirators

Filtering face-piece respirators (FFRs) are one method of protecting health care workers from airborne particles; however, research suggests adherence is poor, perhaps due to worker discomfort. Three separate focus groups were conducted at two Veterans Affairs health care facilities. Seventeen health care workers who reported using FFRs as part of their job duties were in the focus groups. Focus group transcripts were coded using qualitative descriptive coding techniques. Participants described experiences of discomfort and physical mask features they believed contributed to discomfort. Participants believed FFRs influenced patient care because some patients felt uneasy and changed health care workers' behaviors (e.g., doffing procedures, loss of concentration, rushed patient care, and avoidance of patients in isolation resulting from FFR discomfort). Assessment of comfort and tolerability should occur during fit-testing. These factors should also be taken into account by management when training employees on the proper use of FFRs, as well as in future research to improve comfort and tolerability.

Source: Sara M. Locatelli; Sherri L. LaVela; Megan Gosch, Workplace Health Saf, 2014; 62 (9) :362–368.

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